Going into WWE Battleground, the showdown between Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan was one of the most anticipated singles matches in recent memory. Add in the fact that the fate of the WWE title hung in the balance, and the match was engineered to be an instant classic.
And despite the strange finish of the contest, it was still a good showing by both competitors, easily meeting the expectations of the WWE Universe.
But a match between these two is just that, expected to meet or surpass the audience's expectations.
There were also other matches on the card that did exactly the same thing, though for different reasons.
With many outlets, even wwe.com, reporting that Rob Van Dam is planning to take some time off in the near future, was it any surprise that Del Rio brutally attacked his challenger and was able to win the match?
Del Rio has now been champion for several months and has yet to really face a sincere threat to his title. Despite guys like Christian and RVD stepping up to challenge him, Del Rio has held on to his prize with relative ease.
By placing Del Rio into another predictable feud with Christian, one where Captain Charisma can possibly win the World Heavyweight title away from the Mexican aristocrat, is the company setting the stage for Money in the Bank briefcase holder Damien Sandow to cash in and give the title new life?
It's pretty easy to live up to expectations when there is little buildup to your match.
The company had done little in the weeks leading up to Battleground to hype an Intercontinental title contest between these two competitors, only having them begin their program mere days before the event was to take place.
It also helps that since Ryback came on the scene, Axel has been a virtual ghost in high profile matches in WWE.
Truth, a fixture on the roster for many years at this point, offers a decent matchup to anyone that he faces, and served Axel well in his quick victory.
The match did nothing to pump up either character, but it was exactly what it was expected to be, a filler spot on the card that took up some time.
Sure, Ryback is the new Paul Heyman guy, and he seems to enjoy beating up on "bullies." So he should have beaten Punk at Battleground right?
But wait, Punk claims to be the best in the world, and backs up that claim week after week with stellar work both in the ring and on the mic. So clearly he should have won.
If this were a weightlifting contest, Ryback would have the edge. However, it was not, and therefore Punk should have been a heavy favorite. And he did win the match in the end.
However, Paul Heyman being in Ryback's corner is a big intangible, and he did factor into the finish of the match.
The finish, which included a low blow from Punk, was the perfect way for the company to complete the contest, seeing as neither competitor looked weak in either victory or defeat.
Punk can walk away with his head held high, having secured a hard-fought victory, and leaving egg on the face of Heyman.
For his part, Ryback was not beaten cleanly and can whine about that fact for weeks to come on WWE programming.
Fans expected a hard-fought and brutal contest and were given exactly that. And from the looks of the finish, we have not heard the end of this feud. Not by a longshot.
With so much at stake, the Rhodes clan could not afford to make any mistakes in their encounter with The Shield. And in the end, they emerged with a victory and seemingly, with their jobs reinstated.
Fans liked hoped that this would be the outcome, but as with everything in WWE, nothing is assured except what is good for business.
Kudos to the company for realizing that the weeks that Cody Rhodes was off of television seemed to be lacking some type of excitement. He adds that spark to any segment he is in. In addition, the return of Goldust, always a crowd favorite, has added new life to an aging WWE superstar—one that probably has more left in the tank than most people realize.
Hopefully Cody will factor into many storylines going forward, because the Rhodes family deserves to be treated as wrestling royalty, not the court jesters begging for scraps.
And for their part, Rollins, Reigns and Ambrose all looked great in defeat—something that not just anyone can do. The trio has a bright future in the wrestling business, whether as a team or as singles competitors.
In any event, this match was a showstealer for sure, due in large part to the talented individuals that comprised it.